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Early reactions have been mixed so far on Supreme Court decision on carbon taxation

Posted on 25 March 2021 by Prairie Post

The President of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the challenges to federal jurisdiction over carbon taxation.

“Saskatchewan agricultural producers have been very concerned about the impact of the federal carbon tax on our sustainability,” APAS President Todd Lewis explained. “As producers, we don’t set the prices for our products, and can’t pass those extra costs along the value chain, so it comes right out of our pockets.” APAS has estimated the cost of producing an acre of wheat will increase by $12.50 by the time the carbon tax is fully implemented in 2030. These cost increases will include trucking, rail freight, and grain drying.

“APAS decided to get involved as an intervenor in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal case because agriculture and environment are shared federal/provincial areas of jurisdiction, and policymaking in those areas works best when it’s developed by both levels of government and reflects the best interests of those sectors.”

Lewis pointed out that the federal carbon pricing policy still impacted the financial sustainability of producers, and that the needs of producers would have to be addressed by the federal government. “The Court has upheld the federal government’s jurisdiction, and now the government must act to resolve the outstanding issues faced by our industry.”

Alberta Party Acting Leader Jacquie Fenske has issued the following statement on the Supreme Court Decision on the Carbon Tax:

“Once again, Jason Kenney has fought and lost a political battle which accomplished nothing besides wasting time and taxpayer money. Whether it is Bigfoot or the Prime Minister, the UCP is more focused on theatrical opposition than on improving the lives of Albertans, caring for our environment, and improving the lives of Albertans.

“The Alberta Party has a plan that keeps the carbon tax money in Alberta and used for Albertans.” 

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Federal Director Aaron Wudrick released the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the federal carbon tax:  

“This ruling, while disappointing, confirms only that the Trudeau carbon tax is legal — it doesn’t make it good policy.

“The fact remains that this tax represents higher costs for millions of Canadian families and businesses, causing significant economic pain in exchange for no environmental gain.

“The legal battle may be over, but we will proudly continue our fight against this tax in the policy arena.”

On the other side of the fence, Clean Energy Canada was happy. 

Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the federal government’s carbon pricing system is constitutional:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the federal government has the authority to tackle climate change at the level required—something Canadians both want and expect from their political leaders. 

“Any serious climate plan needs a backbone that does the heavy lifting, and carbon pricing is widely considered the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. It’s the intersection of climate ambition and smart economic policy.

“As our largest trading partners, from the U.S. to the EU, chart ambitious courses to cleaner economies, it’s even more crucial that we use policies like carbon pricing to make our exports lower carbon and thus more competitive.

“It’s also important to remember that Canada’s price on pollution gives money back to Canadians in the form of a rebate. Most households receive more than they pay, especially low-income Canadians who tend to use less energy.

“And let’s not forget that many Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change. The average cost of a natural disaster has risen more than tenfold in the last fifty years, and one in 10 Canadian households are now at risk of extreme flooding.

“Now is the time to move forward together and strengthen, not tear down, our plans to build a clean and prosperous Canada.”

* Statement from Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence, on the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in favour of Canada’s carbon pricing law

Environmental Defence acted as an intervenor in the case, represented by the Canadian Environmental Law Association

This ruling is good news for all Canadians. Carbon pricing is one of the most effective tools the government can use to help reduce carbon pollution. It has been shown to work across Canada. That’s why Environmental Defence participated as an intervenor in the case, in support of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. 

The constitutionality of the carbon pricing law was previously upheld in Ontario and Saskatchewan. And it is not surprising that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed with these lower court rulings. The challenge from the provinces was a complete waste of millions of taxpayer dollars, and a distraction from the urgent need to fight climate change.      

Climate change is already causing flooding, forest fires, heat waves, deaths, and billions of dollars of damage in Canada. Indeed, the Supreme Court affirmed that climate change is “an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world.” Canadians want their governments to take action, and the courts have now conclusively affirmed that the federal government has the power to do so. With this case behind us, we hope that our provincial and federal governments can work together on this and other necessary programs to develop a low-carbon future.   

Carbon pricing is just one of the tools that Canada is using to fight climate change, but we are still far from being on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming to 1.5 degrees as agreed to in Paris in 2015. The federal and provincial governments must do more to address emissions in Canada. Hopefully this ruling clears the way for that.”  

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